Yes, absence really does make the heart go fonder

HANNAH: Naturally, to compensate for our one fabulous night at Claridge’s, Terence felt obliged to spend several days in the wilds burying his crap in a hole. Packing up his red spotted handkerchief, he bade me take care of his closest, indeed, only friends – garden allies Mouse [TERENCE: Don’t tell Betts, but Mouse has become mice. Must stop feeding my friends.] Fox, Bird, Spider, and, of course, Dog – and headed off to the Lakes to rough sleep his way through autumn’s first frost. [TERENCE: I take social distancing to a whole new level.]

Or did he? For our hero returned suspiciously tanned and exhausted, newly obsessed with an Alexander McQueen documentary, in a way that did nothing to assuage the below-the-line conspiracy theory that, in Torygraph terms, he ‘bats for the other side’. ‘Were you, in fact, strutting your stuff at a gay club in Ibiza?’ I demanded. [TERENCE: Nonsense, I’m the guy who craves the Balearics for the walking tours.]

‘You mean like Glitterbox, La Troya, or Lola’s?’ he retorted, immediately summoning several. He then went through the pretence of a week’s ritual washing of Gore-Tex.

Either way, while the dog actively pined, whimpering outside his vardo [TERENCE: At least one of my girls is loyal: my south London Greyfriars Bobby] and resenting her 8.30am walk taking place at noon, I felt… What? Not relief, as such, but a certain stillness, clarity and sustained state of calm. Without wanting to sound Stepford, if I put something down, it stayed there; if I cleaned something, it remained clean. I devoted a day to chores. The flat was filled with flowers and fragrance, not mud and crumbs.

The resistance toward being micro-managed left me. I ate more healthily because I wasn’t rebelling, slept more soundly because two bodies (human and canine) weren’t taking up all the space. Efficiency was improved, waters went unmuddied, my moods were my moods, not reactions to his. [TERENCE: Looking back, it’s a miracle that the you that isn’t the you-with-him was ever attracted to the him that isn’t the him-with-you. Say if I’m overthinking this.]

Two years on from moving in together – a year after beginning this column – I got myself back, unearthed the me that isn’t the me-with-him.

It took us both a few days to settle back into coupledom, lone wolves merging back into a pack. We existed independently for a while, each preoccupied by work. And, then, I succumbed to flu, and he did my dog walks, made tea, brushed my hair and read me to sleep. [TERENCE: This is a regressive fever dream. I haven’t brushed her hair since our courting days.]

He cleaned the kitchen, did the bins, and took the dry cleaning, bought me hippy milk and non-budget tomatoes. And, when he decided that I really needed to start eating again, he acquired a coffee cake so vast I felt forced to inquire whether he’d got someone pregnant. We are a team. Sometimes we’re a crap team, but a team nonetheless. [TERENCE: Sad to say,  I actually really missed her. Without Betts, the sunsets lost their shine.]

Read more: 

A night at a hotel is a romantic cliche – but it brought back the spark for us

How I learnt to not become my mother

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